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BJP urges Pakistan to protect Sikhs in NWFP

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
May 05, 2009 01:06 IST
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Concerned over the plight of Sikhs in Pakistan, Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday requested Islamabad to ensure protection of the minority community from the Taliban.

During a meeting of a BJP delegation with authorities of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, the saffron party leaders submitted a memorandum expressing concern over the safety of Sikh community in the tribal region of the neighbouring country where the Taliban have levied 'Jazya' on minorities.

Led by the party's Delhi President Om Prakash Kohli and senior leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra, the delegation demanded that the Pakistan government should not "surrender" before the extremist groups and protect rights of minority communities.

"Sikhs and Hindus are living under fear there. Their lives are not safe as their houses and property are being captured and damaged by the extremists there and they are being subjected to several atrocities of which Jazya is only an example," Malhotra told media persons in New Delhi.

He said hundreds of Sikhs have taken shelter in several Gurudwaras of Hasan and Rawalpindi while several others have been forced to flee from Guner, Swat and Kazai.

"Any modern state cannot allow to continue such anarchic situation. One can even not imagine the enforcement of tax on the line of religion such as Jazya," Malhotra said adding that Pakistan had "failed" to protect its people.

Later in the day, the party also demanded convention of an United Nations' meeting on the issue of increasing violation of human rights in Pakistan saying the international community should compel Islamabad to take effective steps for protection of minorities.

Accusing the United Progressive Alliance government of failing to take a strong stand on the issue, the saffron party demanded that the government should create pressure on Pakistan to ensure the safety of Sikhs and Hindus.

"Congress-led government has not shown seriousness in the issue and is taking a soft stand on it," Malhotra alleged at a press conference.

Bhartiya Janata Party general secretary Arun Jaitley also condemned the Jejiya tax imposed by the Taliban on Sikhs.

Jaitley was speaking at a public rally in Bhatinda. "We stronly condemn the tax imposed on the hapless Sikhs. We are distressed by the plight of Sikh in NWFP (North West Frontier Province) in Pakistan," he said.

Former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, who was also present in the rally, said those distressed Sikhs wanting to migrate to India, should be given full protection by Indian authorities.

"Those who want to shift to India will be extended full assistance if BJP comes to power," Sinha said.

Additional reportage: PTI

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi